Monday, February 22, 2016

If You Can Make It Through This, You Can Make It Through Anything

The best way to share my NAPE experience with you is to start with the end. I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Energy Landman’s Breakfast. It’s a monthly meeting of 29 land and business development professionals, and their guests, representing a number of companies in the E&P industry. The breakfast kicks off with some introductory remarks and a short speech from everybody in attendance, including the students (I choked on the first sentence). As I sat and listened to some of the senior members, I couldn’t help but think: this downturn will end, and it’ll all be alright. We were encouraged to continue with our education and stay the course. One of the last speakers said, “If you can make it through this, you can make it through anything”, and that stuck with me for the entirety of NAPE. We’ve all heard about “the great crew change”, and if you haven’t, strap in, because you’re already on your way.

As low oil prices continue to shake down the industry, we’re left wondering: where do I fit in, how can I possibly make it? While it was disheartening to hear of the recent layoffs from members of the breakfast, I was encouraged by the fervor for new opportunities and a leaner, meaner industry, so to speak.

You’ve heard it time after time; this industry is small, and everybody knows everybody. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “Oh, Gunnison? I’ve got a house up there”, or “I ski Crested Butte from time to time”. It was an easy ice breaker, and served as a reminder that despite being in the middle of nowhere, we’ve got industry professionals all around us. A number of alumni, easily identified by the “W” logo on their lapel, stopped by the Western booth to get to know us. The genuine interest and time spent was a clear indicator that we are a tight group, and Western State graduates are proud of the program and everything that we’re doing.

Take the time to network and get to know your classmates well, these are the easiest connections to make and will pay dividends for years to come.

Houston NAPE was encouraging. As I walked the floor, I could see new connections being made, deals being negotiated, and business carrying on as if oil was at $100. While navigating the 14.6 acre floor, we introduced ourselves to a variety of company representatives and garnered curiosity, compliment and support. We’re different, and people are intrigued by that. Western has a fantastic program, and I enjoyed explaining why. NAPE was a great opportunity to represent Western State and the PLRM program.

Pete Mehall

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Control What You Can

Hello everyone! I hope you all are enjoying the Colorado weather. I met the humidity this summer, and it can be miserable. Supposedly, the winter is worse… I’m sure by now we have all read about the recent lay-offs. Times are tough, anxiety is through the roof, and the job market is softer than ever. I wanted to share what the past six months has looked like for an Associate Landman, and provide a few takeaways from this roller-coaster ride.

After a long road trip across the country, I started in Noble’s Canonsburg, Pennsylvania office, on June 22nd. Prices were around $59.00 oil and $2.75 gas. Not good, but good enough. I began my Associate Landman Rotation within the Non-Operations group. It was tough to keep up with our Joint Venture Partner (CNX) and their optimistic plans of operating. By August, CNX had reduced their workforce substantially, and my efforts shifted to the Operations side. Unfortunately, we laid off the rest of our brokers in the field. Yet, this opened a door for me, and I jumped at the opportunity.

Up until a few weeks ago, the office morale was fine. Everyone seemed to be putting the thought of another lay-off on the “back-burner.” I had dove into my new role as an in-house broker. Spending countless hours at dinner tables discussing lease provisions, operations to expect, and the all-important Bonus check. Through this hands-on learning curve I realized that no matter how our industry is negatively or positively impacted by prices, our landowners demand respect, fairness, and honesty. Without their support, asset development is rather impossible.

The good times turned a complete one-eighty when an email arrived from our CEO, Dave Stover. A reduction in workforce was in store for Noble, and it was to be distributed by anticipated activity. Many in the office had a hunch the Land Department would be significantly cut. When the day came, phones began to ring and escort frequented the hallways. Not an ideal way to enter your fifth month outside of the safe confines of college. We lost nearly half the department. Seeing friends lose not only their jobs, but the monthly income they depend on to feed their families, pay mortgages, and live on was eye-opening. When I returned the work the next day, I had my manager stop in my office, look me in the eye and say, “We lost a lot of good people, kept a lot of good people. You keep your chin up, a good attitude, and keep working hard.” His remorse, kindness, and confidence spoke volumes.

Working within this industry, we can all expect to encounter the same challenges that my colleagues, friends, and mentors are today. No matter what happens, remember to control what you can. Your effort, attitude, and drive to continue learning is all you have. Be excited to enter an industry that is cutthroat. WSCU, the PLRM Program and Menon have prepared you for success in the best and worst of times. Continue to build your resumes with any type of industry related experience you can. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for each one of you.

All the best,
Tony Ball
PLRM Graduate, 2015
Associate Landman, Noble Energy

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Nowhere and Everywhere

This last week was one of those, what day is it and where are we, kinds of weeks. I traveled with the Western Admissions team recruiting students, meeting with industry and alumni all over the state of New Mexico spreading the good PLRM word.

5 days, 1,131.7 miles, 20 hours of driving, 6 high schools, 2 junior colleges, hundreds of potential Mountaineers and my fair share of red and green chili.

I had plenty of wide open space to contemplate some lessons learned.

Say Yes

In an challenging industry environment, I have two words for you, SAY YES. This is a great time to figure out who you are and to take risks. In my career I have said yes to as many projects and opportunities as possible and so far it has paid off every time. The next time you're waffling about accepting a new challenge, getting off the couch to try a new activity, or taking a professional leap,
remember to put a thumb on the scales in favor of yes. It's instantly a richer life full of more possibilities. I have not only survived, but thrived in multiple industry downturns, because I was willing to see opportunities in areas that were not on my prescribed career track.

Make The Most Of Your Time

Should you find yourself on a work trip, use it as an opportunity to not only accomplish what you were sent there for, but to establish new relationships and reinforce already existing connections. Ask  those you know if they would be willing to make some introductions. Share with other friends and colleagues where you are headed. You never know who they might know. Remember, while this industry is tremendously large and impactful on a global scale, it is a very close-knit community.

During this trip, friends of Western and PLRM introduced me to a state senator, a mayor, a director of a chamber of commerce, military officers, and so many more. Schedule coffee and meals into your work day to connect with those outside of your prescribed objectives, it is exhausting but well worth your while.

Get Uncomfortable, Embrace, Appreciate And Have A Sense of Humor.

"Menon, Western enticed you to take on this role with exotic travel as a bonus I am sure this is what you expected, we are glad you are now living the dream." -PLRM Advisory Board Member

People love Colorado, we love the Gunnison Valley and are lucky to call it home. I have to remind myself that the beautiful little snow globe we live in, is located and operates far from the "real
world". When traveling for work in the oil and gas industry we often find ourselves far from home, and well outside of the idyllic setting of the Rocky Mountains. I have found that work travel has presented me with a an opportunity for professional and personal growth. More often than not, I find myself in meetings, at conferences, and in towns that place me well out of my norm.

What does this mean? It means that I have been exposed to and learned to appreciate differing political and religious perspectives, socioeconomic circumstances, and geographies of communities in the oil patch. I have also found that if you are open to growth and competing perspectives you will find rich history and charm everywhere you go. You don't have to be a natural fit everywhere, but you do have to have an openness and sense of adventure to accomplish work objectives and to grow as professionals and human beings.

Sometimes I wonder how I landed in higher education and in the oil and gas industry. Has this girl from California been abducted and dropped into an alternate universe?!?

The answer is no, I have simply said YES my whole career. I have always seen challenging times as an opportunity to stretch and grow. I love my work in higher education, oil and gas, and all the people and communities that have invited me in along the way.

In times like these, uncomfortable is the new comfortable.

Keep it weird and Western up!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Internship Lessons Learned: ConocoPhillips Tyler Adams

As I sat at my desk on August 7th, 2015, I couldn’t believe that it had finally come to an end. My internship with in Farmington, NM with ConocoPhillips had come to an end. It was my last morning in the office, I had just finished transferring all my work from the summer over to my project manager, who would be taking over from where I had left off. I was doing my final project for the summer, which was different from anything I had been required to do in the scope of my internship. This project was for assuring my career as a Landman.

Although you’d think the completion of the internship would be a moment of joy, I found it extremely bittersweet. The summer had seen massive shocks to commodity prices, as oil had dropped below $40 per barrel. I had developed from a green-around-the-ears college student, to a functional Landman over the course of the past 3 months. A downturn in the market left ConocoPhillips in a tough situation, they had brought on an extremely talented group of Land interns, but were unable to hire a single one. I had received this news earlier in the week in my exit interview with my supervisor and the Land skills manager.

With this news in mind, the project I began consolidated some steps I had been taking earlier in the summer. Networking has been hammered into our heads since our admittance into the Professional Land and Resource Management program, and for good reason. I had made it a personal goal of mine to create as many contacts from my internship as possible. I had been working on my networking throughout my whole internship, but now it was time to use this information and these relationships to my advantage.

I had created my contacts list and built relationships with these people through my projects and questions. One thing I realized over summer was that networking does not have to be bound by who is in your office. I reached out to individuals in Houston from Farmington on the regular, in anticipation of meeting them when I went to Houston for my final presentation. Many Houston workers and been in Farmington at one point and had valuable information pertaining to my projects. I found that one of the most effective ways to network was by reaching out for information, chatting about both this and yourself will create a great connection, especially as an intern.

As I had my contact list fully functional, it was now time to reach out to my strongest connections for advice. I was now heading into the job hunt again, in the midst of a massive downturn, and any words of wisdom would be taken with the upmost attention. The messages I received were consistent and to the point. The take home lesson for me was that, if you really do want to be in the industry, you must be flexible. This industry is volatile, and the position you find will not always be the sexy, flashy job that you had envisioned as a student.

One thing that my internship had confirmed was that I really enjoyed land work. I knew after this summer that this was what I wanted to do for my career. Now, I sit back in Gunnison, writing this and reflecting on some major realizations that occurred to me about the real world. I will leave everyone with my takeaway from this summer and a piece of advice to all those looking for positions in current market situations. Be passionate in what you do, don’t just rely on your courses to give you knowledge. Want to learn about the industry. This will give you the motivation to succeed. If you know about this industry you are going into, you will find the work it takes to succeed come as second nature. I am back in school realizing I’m in the same situation I was a year ago. I do not know where I will end up after I graduate. What I do know is that I am excited about this process. I have nurtured a passion for Land work and this makes the hurdles that are to come look much less daunting.

I want to wish everyone good luck with the recruiting process this fall! Keep your heads down and take advantage of every opportunity Western’s PLRM program offers with excitement. Those who embrace this process and are excited by it are the ones who will succeed!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Gratitude and Growth

Weld Central, Fort Lupton, Frederick, Longmont, Downtown Denver, Green Valley Ranch.
Industry Partners, High School Students, Alumni, Board Members and PLRM students.

This last week was truly a journey of appreciation and affirmation. So often we get so caught up in the day-to-day of what we do that the big picture is murky at best. After a week on the road I have been reminded of the following:

You've Come A Long Way

As I sat in the guidance counselor's offices and high school cafeterias in Weld County I was reminded that not too long along it was you that walked those halls.  From the awkward high school junior that has difficulty making eye contact to the wide eyed senior that sees nothing by possibilities, there is one commonality they are young and a blank slate.  

PLRM asks and requires a great to deal of our students. We do this knowing it is what industry demands. As faculty and PLRM Leadership it is our job to listen to the challenges, concerns and opportunities of our industry friends and translate those needs into our courses and advising. After years of teaching, coaching and mentoring here is what I know:
  • Opportunities for growth. You have consistently received constructive feedback with grace, openness and dignity. Thank you.
  • Trade-offs. You have taken our feedback, matured and grown up in short order, often at the expense of the other college shenanigans that you could be engaging in. Thank you.
Industry is taking notice and is impressed with your humility and gratitude. Never lose sight of this. It is our differentiator. 

Small Can Be Mighty

I clocked many hours with young land professional that have undying allegiance to their AAPL accredited alma-mater and walked away with several thoughts:
  • What we lack in funding we make up for in heart and commitment. All of the work we do outside the classroom on professional development matters. Everyday we get better, not because it is easy, but because we know that we are better for it. I would put our students toe-to-toe with students from competing programs and bet on you every time. 
  • We are a start up. We have all the benefits and pitfalls that come with that. We are agile and accessible with endless possibilities. We also experience growing pains as we prove ourselves in a well established market. It is my hope that as we get bigger and more established we do not lose our creativity and flexibility. These are attributes that are uniquely Western and grow and test our character on a daily basis.

We Are All Ambassadors

Choose your words wisely and choose your actions even more carefully. We are ambassadors for this industry, our program and our university. We are only as good as the last graduate from our program. 
  • Make our alumni proud. All the of graduates that came before you are out there paving the way for you everyday, do not disappoint.
  • Be an advocate for our industry. Do this with an appreciation for all opinions and perspectives. Do this with humility and a willingness to learn. Be proud of our profession and shatter old stereo types.
  • Be a recruiter. Go home on the holidays and find those in your communities that would love to follow in your foots steps. Visit your high schools and community events and share what it means to be a mountaineer.

Keep doing what you are doing and do more of it.  
Western UP.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Thoughts on Industry

When analyzing the oil and gas industry, supply and demand of these commodities must be considered. Currently, the United States, Russia, and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) are producing oil and gas at record levels. On the demand side of the equation, China is one of the largest consumers of oil and gas. As China’s economy has slowed down, their consumption of oil and gas has followed. The global economy is interconnected with China and the effects of a struggling Chinese economy are felt worldwide. Oil is bought and sold in U.S. dollars, which affects the current price. A stronger U.S. dollar drives the price of oil down. An increase in global supply and decrease in global demand creates uncertainty for the oil and gas industry.

There are countless sources predicting the upturn of oil and gas prices but future prices are unknown. Currently however, there are favorable developments in the industry. Pipelines are being constructed from the northeast (Marcellus and Utica Shale) region and connected to multiple large hubs. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plants are being built. And the repeal of a four-decade old U.S. crude export ban may be under review. If you ask an oil and gas professional with 30 years plus experience they will tell you prices will bounce back, the “good times” will emerge once again.

There are limited opportunities right now, but with adversity comes possibility. One lesson I have learned in my short career is that the job duties and responsibilities of a landman are vast. We work with numerous industries including agriculture, environmental, regulatory, construction, and many more. My first land related internship was for a non-profit conservation company. From there, the road to landing a full time opportunity with a publicly traded and diversified oil and gas company has been challenging and rewarding. So remember that it is important to exhaust all avenues for opportunity in this business because the industry will turn around. For all my fellow fishermen out there, when a dry fly is not working do not be afraid to tie on a streamer. This university has equipped you with the right tools for you to achieve success. Do not be afraid to use them. Best of luck on your future endeavors Mountaineers.

Best regards,

Brain Amsberry

Landman, Noble Energy

Friday, September 4, 2015

Internship Lessons Learned: SM Energy, Charle Miller

Ambition: A Double Edged Sword.

Hey y’all! I was very surprised how much I missed our group this summer! It will be nice to see all of you again. How was your summer? Mine was great, and I learned a lot. I wanted to take a minute to share with you a mistake I saw from several interns this summer. Hopefully, this will benefit you in your upcoming internships and careers.

What is the mistake I noticed? People being overly ambitious.

I know what you're thinking, 'How can you be overly ambitious?' Have you ever met someone who comes on too strong? Or someone who is trying to get something out of you by being pushy? These are some of the characteristics I am speaking of. Ambition is like perfume, a little is good but too much will give everyone around you a headache.

Some of the interns, in my opinion, came across too aggressively when speaking to management. There is a time and place for everything. There is a time to try and connect with upper management or a potential client, but there is also a time to give them some breathing room. I am a strong believer in less is more. You can really wear out your welcome with an individual by constantly asking questions, and trying to get to know them. You don't want to look desperate or like a brown nose! This summer I learned I was not alone in this belief. Here are two things that were said to me this summer, and both of these are from landmen with over 30 years in the business:

1) One gentleman I came to respect this summer stated that he did not enjoy dinners with the interns because he felt many were 'too pushy.' I actually noticed this from many interns, and felt bad for some of the management.

2) After getting to know another landman, he confided in me that he refused to wear his company shirt in public. The reason for this was the constant harassment he received from industry people trying to get a job or a deal done.

Get to know these people because you are interested in them – not for what they can do for you. Keep in mind, these experienced landmen have been around the block many times, and can see through the b.s. Menon has done a great job of telling us how to connect with people. Keep those things in mind and be genuinely interested in the other person.

This is my 'takeaway' from this summer! Hope this helps.